Penn State tops No. 1 seed Illinois 8-4 for the Illini’s 8th straight loss at the Big Ten Tournament

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Adam Cecere hit a home run and made a highlight catch, J.T. Marr added three hits and No. 8 seed Penn State beat top-seeded Illinois 8-4 on Wednesday for the Illini’s eighth straight loss at the Big Ten Tournament.

Illinois was coming off a weekend series sweep at Purdue to help earn its first Big Ten championship since 2015. The Illini (33-18) now join No. 2 seed Nebraska in the consolation bracket, looking for the program’s first win in the tournament since May 25, 2018.

Penn State (27-23), which advances to play the winner of the Michigan-Iowa matchup on Thursday, became the first No. 8 seed to win a first-round game at the tournament since 2019.

Marr singled in two runs with two outs in the fourth to reach 51 RBIs on the season and give Penn State a 3-0 lead.

Cecere sent a deep shot to center, with a runner on, to give Penn State a 5-1 lead in the sixth on his 16th home run of the season. He has homered in three of the last four games.

Illinois scored in the sixth and had two on base before an inning-ending double play ended the threat.

Penn State tacked on three runs in the eighth. Cecere lifted a sacrifice fly to left for his third RBI of the game, and Bobby Marsh added a two-run double down the line to make it 8-3.

Travis Luensmann struck out a pair in the first inning to reach 200 for his career at Penn State. He finished with seven strikeouts in five innings, while allowing just one run.

Penn State third baseman Bryce Molinaro hit a double to right-center to extend his hitting streak to 15 games.


AP college sports:

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